Matt has been making music with his string orchestra without even being in the same room

4 min read

The COVID-19 situation has been hard on everyone, so finding ways to cope and still enjoy ourselves has been an interesting challenge. I’m Matt, a second-year psychology student, and I moved back to my home town near Reading just before the lockdown. My twin passions are cycling and making music; I’ve been playing Piano and Violin for 14 years now, so the lockdown meant, to me, more time for practise surely?

That hasn’t been the case after 6 weeks; with everything being topsy turvy, post-Christmas limbo style of forgetting what day of the week it is, has made organising and doing anything more difficult than it should be. Which is why when I saw lots of professional orchestras putting up compositions stitched together from their individual players and making music and it sounding pretty good, it gave me something to work towards. I got in touch with the string orchestra I run and we’re in the process of making a recording.

It’s a steep learning curve, and I’m especially grateful to our editor because that’s not going to be an easy job either. As orchestral musicians, we’re so used to being absolutely enveloped by all the instruments playing, so to be completely isolated in your room, hearing your instrument through one ear, and the bass track in the other, feels and looks funny as you can see!

Crucially though, it’s a laugh, especially as you know your mates are going through the same thoughts and having the same fun. When it all comes together, and we see the end product, however good or bad, we’ve still made music together and had fun doing it. And a good hour has passed because you’ve taken like 10 takes because you keep making the same mistake and shouldn’t be that difficult’s still good fun.

Uni work has changed too, and it’s more difficult to motivate myself, but on my course, I’ve had excellent support. My tutor was already the best in my book; coffee, tea and biscuits were consistently served during our tutorials, but his support recently has been so helpful. We’ve had regular contact, sorting out my third-year plans, improving on my assignments, and generally bringing his dry sarcastic humour (which is a good thing). I hope we can all find the fun activities and support that will help us get through, stay safe and happy.